Heather Wyatt’s TikTok posts about daughter’s death spark legal battle

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A decide has ordered a Mississippi girl who says her daughter was bullied to death to close down her social media accounts, as a small-town tragedy balloons into an internet drama with tens of millions of onlookers.

After 13-year-old Aubreigh Wyatt died by suicide in September 2023, her grieving mom, Heather Wyatt, started posting about her death on TikTok, attracting a whole bunch of 1000’s of followers. Heather Wyatt attributed her daughter’s death to bullying, each on-line and offline, by the hands of schoolmates in Ocean Springs, Miss., close to Biloxi.

Though Wyatt didn’t identify the 4 teenagers she accused of bullying her daughter, their names and different info about them shortly surfaced within the replies to her posts, in addition to in different TikTok and Facebook posts by her followers and supporters. Now the households of these 4 teenagers say they’re those being subjected to a vicious marketing campaign of harassment and threats, and so they’ve sued Wyatt for defamation and slander.

The saga is taking part in out on-line earlier than an viewers that reaches far past the 20,000 residents of Ocean Springs, illustrating how TikTok can put a nationwide highlight on an area tragedy in ways in which complicate the lives of these concerned. The case pits a grief-stricken mom’s proper to talk out towards the privateness and security of the kids she blames for her daughter’s death.

On July 1, a decide in Jackson County Chancery Court granted an emergency injunction requiring Wyatt to quickly shut down her TikTok, Facebook and different social media accounts “to protect the minor children in this case.” The order was leaked and circulated extensively on-line regardless of the court docket ordering all information sealed, as earlier reported by the Biloxi Sun-Herald.

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Outraged supporters of Wyatt have posted TikTok movies protesting her “silencing,” a few of which have been seen a whole bunch of 1000’s of occasions. The decide is scheduled to overview the order in a listening to subsequent week.

That case is separate from the defamation lawsuit towards Wyatt, which the 4 teenagers’ households filed on July 2 within the county’s circuit court docket. They say Wyatt in her TikTok movies invited her followers to be taught and reveal the names of the 4 teenagers, even after investigations by native police and a youth court docket discovered no proof that they have been answerable for Aubreigh Wyatt’s death.

In one significantly emotional video, Wyatt confirmed herself stumbling on her daughter’s suicide notes to family members months after her death. The household had beforehand thought Aubreigh didn’t go away a word.

Some TikTok movies about the case, which regularly embrace hashtags corresponding to #LLAW (for Live like Aubreigh Wyatt), have tens of millions of likes and tens of tens of millions of views on the platform.

Wyatt has began a GoFundMe for her legal bills, bringing in additional than $95,000 from almost 4,000 donors as of Wednesday afternoon. She didn’t reply to requests for remark Wednesday, and an legal professional representing her declined to remark.

Wyatt has mentioned in TikTok movies that her purpose is to shine a light-weight on teen psychological well being points. The plaintiffs accuse her of making an attempt to capitalize on the scenario for “clicks,” to develop her social media following and usher in income.

Patrick Guild, the plaintiffs’ legal professional, mentioned he couldn’t touch upon the decide’s order as a result of the case was sealed by court docket order, including that he was dissatisfied to see it posted on social media.

“What has happened as a result of that is that a lot of different theories, and I’ll say, false information has come out” as to the explanations for the order, Guild mentioned. He added that the accusations of bullying by his shoppers are “patently false” however have been “elevated to such a grand scale based on Heather Wyatt’s number of followers.”

“As a result, my clients have been receiving threats that in my opinion can be construed as real concerns for their safety,” he mentioned.

Razzan Nakhlawi contributed to this report.

If you or somebody you realize wants assist, go to 988lifeline.org or name or textual content the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.





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